St. John's Reformed Episcopal Church, Charleston

St. John's Reformed Episcopal Church, Charleston

In 1873, the Reformed Episcopal denomination was established when it separated from the Protestant Episcopal Church due to the latter's refusal to train and ordain black ministers. The movement found its way to the Charleston area the following year when Reverend Peter Stevens, a white Confederate Army veteran, began organizing groups of black freedmen throughout the Lowcountry.

One of these groups convened in a house, and it was there that Saint John's congregation took shape in 1906. In a city still grappling with its deep-seated racism, the black parishioners sought solace and community through worship. However, it wasn't until 1971 that Saint John's found a new home in this Gothic Revival building on Anson Street, a structure of historical significance in its own right.

Constructed in 1850 by black freedmen and slaves who were part of the Presbyterian community, the church became the site of a significant revival in Charleston in 1857. At a time when the nation was on the brink of its bloodiest conflict, blacks and whites, slaves and freedmen, came together in this church to pray and sing hymns side by side.

In the 1880s, the church underwent renovations that added transepts, a Gothic frame ceiling, and 14 stained glass windows. According to records from the Historic Charleston Foundation, many of the church's interior features, including stenciled decorations and gilded Gothic elements, have been preserved by the Saint John's congregation.

On the church grounds, there is a beautifully landscaped garden dedicated to honoring church member Philip Simmons, a renowned Charleston ironworker. Simmons was the designer of the "Heart Gate" that serves as the entrance to this garden.

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St. John's Reformed Episcopal Church on Map

Sight Name: St. John's Reformed Episcopal Church
Sight Location: Charleston, USA (See walking tours in Charleston)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

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